Monday, December 28, 2015


This week was a nice week.   I know some people were surprised that I chose to serve a mission, but trust me, no one was more surprised than me!  Some days I can't believe I am here!  I had a few days like that this week.  Being here during Christmas was wonderful, even though it was nothing like at home.  It was wonderful in other ways.  It was strange being away from home during Christmas, but I was - and still am! - happy to be here.  

Here are some Christmas highlights:

Our branch Christmas party was a hit!  It went from 2 pm on Saturday and ended at 9 pm.  It was LONG.  But not a second went by without laughter or fun.  It was a blast!  Here in the PH, at chruch parties, there is always a "program."  I think members in our ward would die if we had a program like theirs.  Each group, the Primary, the RS, the Elders Quorum, the Youth, even the missionaries (yes, me!), had a presentation for the rest of the branch.  We missionaries, me, Sis Maroket, and the two Elders in our ward sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" in Tagalog.  The Elders Quorum sang also.  The RS was my favorite.  They danced!  They all danced big and sassy to "All I Want For Christmas Is You."  Even the old old ladies!  They love dancing and singing here. 

My housemates and I gave each other gifts.  I gave each of my housemates and my comp a little gift with some cute little cheap, but adorable trinkets inside.  I got a note pad and some cute Christmasy desk stuff from them.  It was fun to wrap and give them presents!  It made it feel a little more like Christmas.  

Christmas is celebrated very differently here!  Santa doesn't come to houses, and people don't really give out a lot of gifts, just to close close friends and family.  Holiday traditions here include:  eating a ton of food, karaoke (SO MUCH karaoke), caroling, and more.  There's really so much karaoke.  Our neighbor this week started doing karaoke, very very loud karaoke, at about 7:30 am and didn't stop until after 2:00 pm.  People here love it!  

I am excited this week for New Years Eve and New Years Day!  Apparently, New Years is super crazy here with fireworks and drunk people everywhere, so us missionaries and required to go on "lockdown."  At 6 pm on New Years Eve, we have to return to our apartment.  During that time, Pres. Rahlf gave us special permission to watch "Inside Out."  I'm excited to see it!  I've never seen it before.  Also, during our lockdown time, I am planning to make some New Years goals.  This past year, 2015, flew by so fast!  I can't believe it's already 2016.  I will be making some goals to help myself be a little better, a little happier, and to do my best as a missionary this year.  I hope you all do the same!  I hope too, that in your goals, you add to pray and read the scriptures every day.  They really are our source of strength and protection. companion Sis Maroket is getting transferred!  I'll have a new companion next time we talk. 

I love you all so much and am so happy to email you today!  I hope you have a happy New Years.  I'll talk to you next year.....hahahaha.  


xo Sister Allen 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Sorry....this letter is going to be short because I was busy busy busy during this email time setting up skype, doing photos,....etc etc.

I hope you are all having a good Christmas break!  I never thought I'd miss the freezing weather in Utah at this time, but I do!  I am glad it snowed!  You will have a white Christmas.  Stay safe driving and skiing!  I'm SO out of my mind excited to Skype you!  It will be so much fun.  I can't wait to see all of your beautiful faces.  

Just a little Christmas message (and a quote that Pres. Rahlf shared with us)....

I am so blessed to be sharing the gospel here, and especially blessed to be sharing the gospel at this wonderful, magical time of the year.  Even though there's no snow, not many decor, and probably won't be many presents, Christmas is magical here.  People are a little kinder, a little sweeter, and a lot more accepting of the gospel.  Each time we say, "mahal na mahal ng Diyos kayo!" (God loves you!), the people smile or let out a little laugh.  It's as if they're surprised!  But we should never be surprised that we have a Heavenly Father and a Savior who love us.  When we think about Christmas, and think about the birth of the Savior, we must also think, "why?"  Why was a Savior born?  A Savior was born....for US.  For every single one of us.  He was born, He lived, and He died and rose again because He loves us.  I love the story of Christmas.  I wish you all the best Christmas!  Always remember the Savior and how much He loves you.  HE is Christmas.  HE is the best gift that you or I could ever have or give. 

One Solitary Life by Author Unknown

“He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenters shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.  He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a house. He never went to college.  He never visited a big city.  He never traveled two hundred miles from the pace he was born.  He did none of the things he usually associated with greatness.  He had no credentials but himself.  He was only thirty three when the tide of public opinion turned against him.  His friends ran away.  He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.  He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.  While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth.  When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.  Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race and the leader of mankind's progress.  All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that One Solitary Life”

I LOVE YOU!  I can't wait to Skype you!

xoxo Sister Anna Ray Allen

District activity!  It was raining so we had to do it at the church.

Flood water in the left hand corner is the road. Ah!
The rest is the rice fields in our area. 
(there was 2 typhoons last week that hit the Philippines...)

Stockings (and lights) hung with care on the bunkbed. :)

My festive desk.  

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


This week was a great week.  I love being a missionary!  I am so happy to be here serving in this crazy, but wonderful place.  This week we had a Christmas Devotional with President and Sister Rahlf.  I really enjoyed it!  I felt the Spirit so strong!  Both of them are great teachers.  By the way, "devotional" doesn't really describe's more like a workshop.  We spend the better part of the day with the mission president and wife.  We were there from 8:45am to about 4:00pm. (Free lunch! Yay!)  And every second was full of learning and full of the Spirit.  Even though we are sitting for most of the time, devotionals are exhausting!  Learning so much about the gospel and feeling the Spirit takes a lot out of you.  I am always "spiritually exhausted" afterwards.  This devotional was especially wonderful because it was about one of my favorite things ever: Christmas!  Their focus was on the Nativity story and on the music of Christmas.  We didn't talk about ways to improve missionary work, key indicators, or teaching skills like we usually do at their devotionals.  We just focused on the birth of the Savior.  After all, the best way to become more like the Savior is to learn of Him.  And that's what we did!  The Nativity is my favorite scripture story.  It holds so much.  I have such a strong testimony of our Savior's birth.  I was happy to learn more from President and Sister Rahlf.  I wish I had time to tell you all the wonderful things I learn.  Someday, I'll teach it to you!  Here are a few highlights:

Sis Rahlf taught us about the song "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "The Messiah."  It's a well known song, and I'd never thought about the beauty of it until the devotional this week.  Handel wrote the entire oratorio of "The Messiah" (which is super long and very musically complex) in about 25 days. That is amazing!  He said that he wrote it by inspiration from heaven.  Listening to it, I know that to be true.  We watched a video that you all should check out.  It's of a group of singers that go into a mall in Pennsylvania and "flash mob" style sing the "Hallelujah Chorus." It was wonderful!  I cried.  You should all check it out!  When you listen, really listen to the words and the beauty of the music.  I promise you'll like it.  You could probably search on YouTube, "hallelujah chorus in Pennsylvania mall" or something like that.  

President Rahlf also taught us a lot about Mary.  I really enjoyed that as well.  What must she have felt?  What must she have thought?  If I was her, I would have been very scared and very humbled.  She really did a marvelous thing.  Although we don't worship Mary like other religions, she deserves our respect and reverence.  Mary must have felt fearful and very alone.  But she was strong and Heavenly Father put people in her path to make her stronger, like her cousin Elizabeth and her husband, Joseph.  Learning about this reminded me of the play/musical "Savior of the World."  The words to the song, which are also words from the Bible, came to my mind:  "With God, nothing is impossible."  I know that to be true, then and now.  For each of us!  Nothing is impossible.

Our area is also improving.  We finally had some investigators at church!  We were so happy to have them there.  They were very well received.  We have also been continuing in strengthening our branch and its members.  I can see the members and its leaders working to strengthen it.  I can feel the Spirit working in us!  I hope we can continue to strengthen and improve each week as an area and as a branch.  

One investigator who came to church is our investigator Nympha.  She is 16 years old and is preparing for baptism in January.  She is really good friends with another young woman Roella, who was a less active in our branch, but has since returned.  Roella, who only recently started coming back to church, brought her friend with her!  Roella and Nympha are both so sweet and both have strong testimonies.  Nympha enjoyed church and even mentioned to Roella that she might want to serve a mission when she's older.  It made me so happy!  I am so blessed to be sharing this wonderful gift of the gospel.  These girls, Roella and Nympha, both understand that gift and have a desire to share it.  It is amazing to see.  It brought tears to my eyes to think that I had a little part in shaping their desire to serve and to bring people unto Christ.  That's all I want, and the only reason I am here.  To bring them to Him.  I am just the messenger, the delivery girl (like my job at UPS last year!  Haha!).  I deliver the message, deliver the gift, but I am not the gift.  HE is the gift.  Jesus Christ is the best gift on earth.  At Christmas time, at good times, and especially at bad times.  He is the gift for all of us.  If I can give that gift to others and inspire them to continue to share it, to keep the missionary work going, I'd be the happiest "delivery girl" in the world.  As members of the church we have a responsibility to share this amazing, perfect gift with the world.  If we don't share it, who will?  We must share this happiness we have with others.  We must give!  I am blessed to be a full time "giver" of the gospel to these amazing people in this beautiful, crazy place. 

I love you all so so much!  I think and pray for you every day. It's a perfect time of the year to talk about Christ!  Maligayang Pasko!  Mahal kita!  Kayo'y maganda! 

xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Monday, December 7, 2015

I love you all so so so much and emailing is one of my favorite things each week.  I am doing well!  I feel like I am getting better in the language and I am improving on being a missionary each day.  It's hard work, but I am starting to realize that choosing to serve a mission is one of the best decisions I will ever make.  I want to give my all!  I want to have no regrets! 

Here's an update on Nanay Relly for you (the one we gave the glasses to):  We visited her this past week, and were so excited to ask her if she read the BoM at all.  We were really anxious!  When we asked her if she had a chance to read, she smiled and said "Wen!"  Which in Ilocano is "opo." (yes) When we asked her what she read, she showed us in her BoM.  It was the page next to the Introduction, which is just a list of all the titles of the books in the scriptures.  She was so proud that she had read it, and happily said "Nagbasa ako lahat!"  ("I read it all!")  We laughed and told her that was a great start, but we made sure to leave her an actual reading assignment in 1 Nephi, with a sticky note on it so she would remember.  Even though she didn't really read scripture, we were happy she started.  Haha!  

I was thinking about dad in my personal study as I read a memorial magazine blurb thing for Pres. Packer's funeral.  It talked about how great of a dad he was and how, no matter what, how he was always there for his family.  Even if he was in a meeting with the prophet, if his family called on the phone, he would take the call.  He put his family first.  And it reminded me of my dad!  I know in a heartbeat, he would drop everything and come to us if we asked him. 

My cough is pretty much gone now.  I am off the meds and have been feeling much better this week.  The azithromycin wasn't a problem either, which is good! 

I have some exciting news.....Sis Maroket and I invited three sisters to be baptized this week, and they all said yes!  Sister Nimfa who is 15, Sister Rosalie who is 30ish, and Sister Shaira who is 18. 

xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I am listening to MoTab Christmas music while typing, and I am so happy.  I love emailing you!  

I am feeling much better.  I still don't know what the rashes were from, but they're gone and they haven't come back, so that's good.  I know it wasn't from food, so it probably was from a weird plant or something that I brushed up against.  My cough is also getting better.  I woke up on Friday, so in America, Thursday, and I just felt like crap.  I just started crying and just felt so blahhh.  I didn't know what to do.  I just wanted to go home to you and have you hug me and take care of me.  Sis Maroket and I talked to Sis Rahlf that morning on the phone, and she emailed the area doctor in Manila, Elder Arner.  He emailed her back really quick and prescribed me azithromycin and prednisone.  I have some kind of respiratory infection, like pneumonia or bronchitis, I'm not sure exactly what it is.  But I know it's not fun!  I took the last antibiotic today and will finish the last of the prednisone tomorrow.  I am feeling much better now!  I got to rest a little bit extra during the day, but honestly, going out and working makes me feel best.  The best medicine is just going out to work and forgetting yourself!  

This week was a good week.  I finisihed the Book of Mormom!  I have read it before with you mom, and in seminary, but this time was different.  It felt like the first time I really read it for myself and understood it.  I loved it.  You know that feeling you have after you finish a good book or movie and you are sad that it's over because you liked it so much?  That's how I felt when I finished it.  My testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown a lot since being on a mission, and I grow and learn from it each time I read it.  I hope each of you read the Book of Mormom each day.  That's all we tell our investigators and less actives each lesson: pray and pray and pray and read and read and read.  We tell them over and over again because we know how important it is.  The Book of Mormon and prayer will give you strength that nothing else in the world can give you.  I am so thankful for the Book of Mormon and for the opportunity I have to share it with others.

We had a great experience with one of our investigators, Nanay Relly.  She is in her late 60's.  She had kidney cancer and has been recovering for the past year from her kidney removal surgery.  We have been teaching her for a while, but she had never been able to read the BofM or the pamphlets because she can't see.  She is one of the old ladies without glasses that I mentioned.  Some wonderful person donated a bunch of glasses to the mission, so Sis Maroket and i got to give her a pair of glasses.  I never thought giving someone a pair of glasses could be spiritual, but it was.  We brought a few different types of glasses to see which she could see best.  Her eyes got all wide and excited when we pulled the glasses out of our bags.  We fit her a pair, and happily handed her the pair that fit best.  She held them tenderly, as if they were the most delicate thing in the world.  She got quiet and just kept saying, "thank you, thank you."  During our lesson, we had her read a passage for us.  I don't remember what we were teaching her about, or what verse we shared with her, but the feeling I got when she was able to read the BofM for the first time, I will never forget.  I couldn't stop smiling.

I love you all so much and am so thankful for you! What a blessed time this is for us to think about family and about the birth of our Savior.


xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

This is one of my favorite families: the Rodriguez family!  They are less active.  You can see their whole house in this picture.  They are so great and so fun!  There's Tatay (dad), Nanay (mom), and four kids, Michael, Melvin, Macmac, and Cheska.  I love them!  

These are little Thanksgiving treats I made for each of my roommates and my comp.  I bought the cookies at the bakery down the street.   They've never had cookies there before, and I was so excited when I saw them, I think I bought half of them!  I left them out on the table for each of them, and they were each so excited.  They loved them!  And the cookies were really yummy.  It was nice to have a "normal" treat like sugar cookies for once

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am sad that they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, but I will still celebrate it in my heart.  I have been filling up my "I am Thankful for..." poster each day and it makes me happy to think you are doing the same thing at home. 

I can't believe it's already Pday!  This week flew by so so fast.  Being busy with missionary work 24/7 makes time fly.  Pday is one of the most stressful days of the week.  We just run around all day, cleaning the house, washing our clothes, going to the store, and running around everywhere to get everything done, and then before you know it, we're out teaching again.  Emailing is the only time of the day I feel like I can breathe.  I love emailing you guys!  It's one of my favorite things to do, of course.

I admit, this week was tough, but it was a good tough.  And keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, I worked on counting my blessings, rather than my trails.  I had a nasty cough this week and I've been getting rashes and hives today and yesterday, but even though my body was under the weather, my spirit was not!  I had a good week of setting personal goals, especially goals for my language learning, and in teaching.  I am still continuing to adjust to the ups and downs that missionary work brings, but I feel that I am growing stronger and stronger because of them.  I love it here and I love the people.

I am so sorry that this letter is short.  I am out of time!  Just know that I am happy, that I am doing well, and that I love you all so much.  


xo Sister Anna Ray Allen

New missionaries & Trainers orientation and training (and reunion)

-They brought the newest missionaries and their trainers back into Cauayan at 5 weeks.  They spent the day in more orientation, had a great lunch, took lots of pictures and answered questions. 

"The sun never sets on this work of the Lord as it is 
touching the lives of people across the earth."
President Gordon B. Hinckley 

Monday, November 16, 2015 was my birthday yesterday!  I am 20 years old.  I FEEL OLD.  I'm not a teen anymore!  My 19th year was great; I did and experienced so much!  I am so excited to start my 20th year, which will be spent entirely in the mission field.  I like to think someday I'll say, when people - my future children or whoever - ask me, "what were you like when you were 20?"  And I'll say, "I was a missionary."  

My birthday was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I was sad before my birthday for a while, thinking of celebrating - or not celebrating at all - my birthday without all of you.  But it turned into a happy day!  That morning, my roommates surprised me by decorating my desk with a cute "happy birthday" sign and decorations that they made out of paper.  It was so cute!  Sis Maroket gave me two cute little notebooks and a little note, and my other roommate gave me some chocolate and a little card too.  It made me happy!  They are so cute and fun.  The morning of my birthday, I ate some pianonu - my favorite bread-type pastry thing here - for my birthday breakfast.  It's basically just sugary, doughy bread.  YUM.  And I opened my presents.  After carrying them around for so long, I was so excited to open them.  I LOVED IT ALL!   After, we had church and the RS sang "happy birthday" to me. :)  After, we had our studies, then proselyting/teaching as usual.  That night, we had a dinner appointment at a member's home.  It was a lot of fun!  We had some yummy spicy food called Bikol Express.  It's good!  Then we hung out with the family for a while.  It was nice to be with such a wonderful family, just eating dinner.  It felt normal.  Then Sis Maroket and I shared a lesson with them, and then went home.  I didn't tell them it was my birthday, but Sis Maroket told them at the end.  They were nice and all blabbered in Tagalog so fast I didn't catch all of it.  But they were excited and said "happy birthday."  Today, Sis Maroket and my roommates Sis Canlapan and Sis Mahinay all went to lunch together at the mall for my birthday.  It was fun!  The restaurant gave me a free birthday cake, and I got to blow out a birthday candle, which made me so happy!  We ordered a giant halo-halo to share for our dessert, but I had no idea just how giant it would be.  It was HUGE.  Luckily, they put what we didn't eat in to-go cups and we got to bring the rest home.  The sisters and my comp are so thoughtful and made sure I had a good birthday. Sometimes I feel so alone here - being the only American in my house, with everyone speaking Tagalog all the time, and with the culture so different from what I'm used to.  But knowing that you were home, thinking of me, makes me really happy.  

Like my necklace (that my mom gave me for my birthday) says.....the stars light is the love of our most-loved ones shining down upon us.  I am happy that your love is always shining on me!  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSTANT LOVE.

This week was a good week.  At our district meeting on Tuesday, an American elder in my district came up to me and said, "so how's your blog?"  It was very startling.  Apparently his mom found the blog somehow and told him about it.  So now everyone I talk to asks me, "am I on your blog?"  It's a little embarrassing, but it's okay. I am proud to share what I'm up to with anyone who'll listen, or read.  

This Wednesday, we had our second "newbies" training meeting at the mission home, like the one we had the morning we arrived.  President and Sister Rahlf and the senior couples talked to us about finances, proselyting materials, our schedule, and other business-type stuff.  Pres and Sis Rahlf also taught us a spiritual lesson and told us more about themselves so we could get to know them better.  I really enjoyed their spiritual lesson.  In part of it, we had to go around the room and say one word that described our first six weeks.  Mine was "test."  It's true, this time has been a test!  But getting through the first six weeks has made me strong and I feel ready and willing to keep moving on in the work.  A few other words were:  challenge,  Tagalog, and rice.  We all laughed pretty hard at the last one!  Pres and Sis Rahlf are so wonderful and I loved spending the day in the mission home with them.  

Here's a little bit about them:  They are both originally from Montana, but they raised their family in Cincinnati.  Pres Rahlf served a mission in Germany.  He worked for P&G as an engineer/business/I-don't-really-know-what executive, and has since retired.  They are the parents of five boys, the youngest of which is on a mission in Germany.  He will be released, here to the Philippines to be with his parents, next year.  Pres Rahlf is very kind and has a strong spirit.  I love learning from him, and Sis Rahlf too.  Pres Rahlf is a great mission president and is dedicated to the work and the gospel.  Even though, I didn't get to know my grandpa Roger, I imagine him as a mission president and envision him as something like my mission president.  Just knowing that grandpa Roger was a mission president tells me a lot about him and the type of man he was.  I know he was a great mission president too, just like Pres Rahlf is for me.  Pres Rahlf plays the guitar too, just like grandpa Roger.  I am getting to know grandpa Roger more through my mission president, and it makes me really really happy.  Sis Rahlf is also amazing.  She is becoming a sort of role model of mine, as a woman and as a member of the church.  I hope I can be like her when I am older. Sis Rahlf loves Harry Potter and Jane Austen books - just like me! - and is very musically talented.  She plays a lot of instruments!   She is very very kind.  Before she came here, she and a friend went and did a service/humanitarian trip in a leper colony in India, just because they wanted to.  I can tell she is very smart by the way she talks.  She is intelligent, and is very insightful about the gospel.  They are both so loving and fun, and make us feel right at home.  I love them! 

Our area is doing well.  Our strength this week was giving lessons.  We were able to teach a lot of investigators and new investigators.  We had over 40 lessons total this week.  We have many people ready for us to "harvest," as they say.  We are just putting in the work to reap them and bring them into the gospel.  Our weaknesses this week were member present lessons and getting investigators to sacrament meeting.  We had only one lesson with a member present this week.  People are always busy!  Or so they say... Most of our investigators work at the mall and don't have Sundays off, or live in our further area, Reina Mercedes, and don't have funds to come to church.  Sister Maroket and I pray every day that they will get to come to church.  We have a lot to improve on each week, but we are constantly working to help those around us receive the gospel.

I am so happy to be here as a missionary, sharing the light of Christ.  I hope you all are sharing your light in every way you can.  You are all amazing and I love you so so much. 

xo Sis Allen

Proselyting selfies!

My GIANT birthday halo-halo at my bday lunch.  Hahaha!

My favorite little kids that run around our area.  Who knows
 who, or where, their parents are, they are the cutest!

Birthday lunch with my comp and mga kabahay! (roommates) 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hello.  I am good!  I am happy!  I am hot all the time!  But I love it here!  I really feel myself growing in so many ways emotionally and spiritually.  Rice belly is real, but I am trying not to grow in that way any more.  Ha!

Here, everyone was listening to Christmas music when I got here at the beginning of October!  There's Christmas everywhere and people even say "merry Christmas" already to each other. Even in sacrament meeting they said, "Merry Christmas and welcome to sacrament meeting."  Hahaha.  It's weird, but fun.  It makes me smile!  

People do have a hard time with money here.  Most people we teach don't even have money to travel to the chapel, and many of the old women aren't able to read the Book of Mormon or the pamphlets we give them because they have no money for reading glasses.  It really makes me thankful for everything that we have, and I am so thankful for the life I was given in a nice home, and a family that has all they need. 

The language is good, but hard.  Everyone tells me I am good at speaking, but I still feel insecure about it sometimes.  I can understand almost everything, but speaking is harder.  I am getting better and learning every day.  I just started reading the Book of Mormon in Tagalog.  It's really hard, but I like it and I am learning.  

I think I say this every week but....what a week!  It's true, every week here in the mission field is great.  I am growing and learning more each day.  My testimony of missionary work and of this gospel grows more and more each day.  More than I ever thought it could.  

Yes, we are teaching a lot of people.  We have about 40 lessons a week and contact over 70 people each week.  It's really great! I'll tell you more about each of them next week.  I'm almost out of computer time! 

I was so stressed this week about becoming a better missionary and about meeting and making goals.  So many names, needs, lessons, goals, and plans were running through my mind.  As I sat and pondered about them, I realized that my fears weren't in the right perspective.  I was stressing about our work in a daily and weekly perspective, when really, our work is for eternity.  I realized I needed to have an eternal perspective.  When we put our fears into an eternal perspective, they become nonexistent.  We need not fear, because we are on God's side!  I have a strong testimony of the power of making goals and plans, and I know that if Sis. Maroket and I plan and make goals according to what God sees fit - always keeping in mind that it is HIS plan, not ours - we will be able to succeed.  Like one of my favorite scriptures says: "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not" (D&C 6:36).  If we have any fears, when we put our Savior and the plan of salvation into the picture, our fears disappear.  Really, we have nothing to fear.  I am so thankful to have an eternal family and for the perfect plan that we have.

Our area is getting better each week.  We have been able to coordinate more with the branch and the Branch Mission leader, and we have made some good plans together.  We've planned for a half-day mission, a missionary fireside with us and the ward missionaries, and are making plans to get more members present in our lessons in the coming weeks.  We are still struggling to bring our investigators to sacrament meeting.  Most of them have work on Sunday, or don't have the money to travel to the chapel.  But, things are looking up.  We have one sister, Sister Jen Aguirre, who just got Sundays off from work, so she will be able to come to church.  Sis. Maroket and I were so happy when she told us that she could come, we were practically jumping up and down with excitement.   She is really progressing, and we are excited for her to come to church.  I fasted for our investigators last week that they would be able to come to church, and my prayers and fast was answered!  Sister Jen said she will come to sacrament meeting next week, and that she really wants to come to church and get baptized.  I love her and am so excited for her.  She is 17 years old.

I am so proud to be a missionary.  I am so proud to be a missionary, here, in the Philippines Cauayan Mission.  This is a great place, where great things happen.  I am continuing to adjust every day, and I can feel myself growing and stretching in knowledge and faith.  I know that through Jesus Christ, my Savior, all missionaries can become great, and that through His infinite sacrifice of love, we can do all things.  I know He leads, guides, and walks beside me every second of every day.

I love you all! Always remember how amazing each of you are and how much you are loved.

Moroni 8:3
xo Sister Allen

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This week was a crazy week.  We did so much!  On Wednesday, Elder Schwitzer (from the 70) and his wife came to do a Mission Tour of the PCM (Philippines Cauayan Mission).  It was so amazing to be able to hear from them and I was so spiritually full afterwards, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I really loved hearing from them.  Before I met them, I was worried that I would be disappointed in meeting them, and that they wouldn't live up to the hype, but the opposite happened:  I was amazed!  Elder and Sister Schwitzer brought such a great spirit of love and I really felt their testimonies and I could see it in their eyes.  They are an amazing pair.  I really enjoyed the entire conference, and I learned so much.  Here are a few things that struck me especially:  

We talked about the parable of the lost coin, and Elder Schwitzer's message from it really touched my heart, and I have reflected on it a lot this week.  He talked about the woman "sweeping the whole house," and how she didn't stop looking, until she found her lost coin.  His son served a mission in New York, and one time he found a woman who lived in an elevator shaft, who was poor and probably looked like a dirty, measly penny to the world.  He taught her, and baptized her, and her life turned completely around.  She may have seemed like nothing, but to Elder Schwitzer's son, she was priceless; and in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, every one - every soul! - is priceless.  I want to find my "lost coins," or brothers and sisters, wherever they may be here in the PCM.  I know that I have been called by a prophet of God to come and find those brothers and sisters - MY brothers and sisters - who are lost in this crazy world.  And I need to find them.  Elder Schwitzer's message, I felt, woke me up, and reminded me of why I was here, and what I need to think of and do each and every day.  I need to search and search!  Nothing, not homesickness, stress, fatigue, or fear, can stifle this work, or me.  To remind me of this message every day, I took a 5 sento-peso piece from my wallet, they're little and brown with a hole in the middle, and I put in on a chain, and I wear it around my neck every day.  It's worth less than a peso, but to me, it's a reminder of how priceless every person is, and to never stop searching for those that are lost.

I also had the opportunity to go on splits with the STL's (who are also our housemates) this Thursday, and I was assigned with Sis Culis.  I was so nervous beforehand, but she really calmed my fears just by her strength and kindness.  She is great!  I learned a lot about teaching and making invitations, and she helped me continue to learn and understand the language. I admire her strength and her capacity to love others.  She is a great missionary.  

We also got a new Branch Mission Leader this week, who is really great.  I am excited to work with him, and strengthen our branch with him.  Hopefully we can get everyone in the ward excited about doing missionary work!  

I love this mission.  I know that angels are by my side each and every day, to bring the joy of the gospel to the Philippines.  I have angels everywhere and I can feel them:  in the kids that run around me and give me high-fives, in the missionaries that I work with; they are all around me.  There's no way I could do any of this without some heavenly help.  I know angels and so many others are here, watching me and lifting me when I can't lift myself.  You are my angels too.  Thank you for being by my side, even though you're not really here, and for praying and fasting for me. 

I love you so much and I am so happy to email you today!  I love being a missionary, and I love helping people here to find the light of Christ.  I LOVE YOU!  MAHAL KITA!  


Sis Anna Ray Allen

Cute little Filipino girls.  This was at our Community Service Project on Friday.  We helped a member clean up all the mess from the storm in his tree/yard/dirt area by his house.

Selfie!  Hahaha I love this picture.  They were all singing and dancing like crazy little girls.  They reminded me of Sage and I being crazy together.  They kept petting my hair and would smile and say in broken English, "what's your name?"  They are so cute!  

This is the daughter of the member who we helped.  Her name is Jelo.  Hahaha, exactly like "Jell-o."  She wouldn't tell me what her name was, but I found out from her sister.  She wouldn't talk to me, but she would run up and grab my hand and walk with me or just run up and stand by me.  She is 2 years old.  

A huge spider we found!  I thought it was carrying a candy at first, like a giant Sweettart or something, but nope.....that's an egg sac!  ICK!  But it was cool.  I wasn't even scared.  Everyone said I was brave for getting close to it hahaha.  As long as it doesn't touch me, I'm good.  It's HUGE.

Me and Sis Maroket before the Zone Conf. with Elder and Sister Schwitzer.  I blow dryed my hair for the first time since being here that day and I thought I was going to die, cause I was so hot.  But my hair was pretty, so that's all that matters.  Beauty is pain! 

What most of the toilets look like.  This is at a member's house named Edita.  You dip the little bucket in the big bucket and the toilet drains down to who-knows-where.  There were sticks and plastic billboard-type fabric stuff about four feet high around it for privacy.  Good thing I'm on the short side!  Haha

This is a dessert called "halo-halo," which in English literally means "mix mix."  Hahaha.  It has snowcone snow stuff in it, jello, weird fruit snack-like squishy things, a chunk of "ube" flavored ice cream stuff, a chunk of cheesecake like stuff, sweet beans, and a bunch of other random stuff that i have no idea.  You mix it all up and then just eat it.  It was actually pretty good!  It was the first time I got cold here, while eating it.  Freezie-brain!  Hahaha